Indian armed forces in grip of pay disparity issue
– Serious command, control implications in the offing
– Govt not ready to include Forces’ rep in pay committee
– Indian Defense establishment fuming over forming of committee without Services’ representation
From Ajay Mehta & Christina Palmer
NEW DELHI – With the Indian government not being serious in resolving the highly sensitive natured issue of the Indian armed forces that refers to high level disparity in the pay scales as it is reluctant to accommodate the request of all the three Services Chief to include a representative of the armed forces in the committee that was formed last month to address the issue, the Indian armed forces are set to be hit by serious command and control implications, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.
According to The Daily Mail’s findings, there are serious issues of pay disparity of serving personnel the Indian Armed Forces with serious implications for command and control and morale, both of which are vital to India’s national security.
These findings further indicate that an anomaly in the grant of non-functional upgradation (NFU) to defense forces raised after implementation of 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC) has been turned down by the defense ministry. Three reasons given as grounds for this were: (a) The service conditions of Armed Forces are quite different when compared to civilian employees. (b) Ample benefits in the form of military service pay and various allowances are available to armed forces officers and (c) Government orders are for Organized Group A Services and armed forces do not have such set up.
The investigations reveal that the core issues raised for parity have been overlooked. The benefit of the NFU has been extended to the Group A services whose officers work with the armed forces in a supporting role. Armed forces officers are also posted to these organizations, such as the Indian Naval Armament Service, Indian Ordnance Factories Service, Indian Defense Service of Engineers (MES), Defense Aeronautical Quality Assurance Service, Defense Quality Assurance Service, Defense Research and Development Service, Survey of India Group A Service, and the Border Roads Organization.
Further, while Indian Police Service (IPS) Officers posted to Central Police/Paramilitary Organisations like Border Security Force, Assam Rifles and Indo-Tibetan Border Police functioning under Army formations in counter insurgency operations and also deployed on Line of Control/Line of actual control with the Army were granted NFU, the Armed Forces were left out. This has resulted in serious command and control and functional problems which is resulting in a demoralizing effect on the officer cadre of the Armed forces.
The qualifying attributes of Organized Group A Services were that at least 50 per cent of the posts in JTS (junior time scale) should be filled by direct Recruitment, highest post in the cadre should not be below SAG (special administrative grade) Scale, all Standard Pay Scale should exist and all the posts up to scale of `18,400-22,400 should be filled only by promotion.
The Daily Mail’s findings further indicate that a major implication of not extending NFU to Defense Forces is that while all civil service officers making it to the post of Joint Secretary by selection would transit into the Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) Scale and definitely retire with the pension of that Scale, a Major General who is senior in protocol and retiring at the rank would continue to draw pension in Pay Band – 4, would drop to the minimum Pay Band-4 while transiting to next Pay Commission. Examples of disparity as a result of not granting NFU to Defense Service Officers are: While a director from the Organized Central Group “A” Services draws Senior Administrative Grade Pay Scale at 22 years of service, the defense services officers with same service holding similar appointment draw a pay scale of `37,400-67,000 with grade pay of `8,700. A director from the Organized Central Group “A” services will be drawing HAG Scale at 32 years of service while defense services officers with same service and holding similar appointment will be drawing a Pay Band-4 scale of `37,400-67,000 with grade pay of `8,700. This leads to differential treatment in pay and allowances granted to organized central group “A” services/All-India Services and Defense Services officers performing similar appointment in the same HQ/formation/ unit under identical circumstances.
With the benefits that accrue from NFUs, a director from organized central group “A” services with 33 years of service would be drawing a pension of `36,500 per month whereas officers of defense service, holding similar appointments with 33 years service, will be drawing a pension of `32,920 per month on retirement.
A Major-General having 33 years of service working as additional director general in integrated HQs in ministry of defense will draw a SAG pay scale service working under him will be drawing HAG scale. The major-general will be eligible for a pension of approx `33,170 per month and the director will be eligible for a pension while the director from organized central group “A” service with 32 of `36,500/-.
The BSF sectors are deployed on LoC with Army. The Sector Cdr of BSF will be drawing equal pay as his superior, i.e. Maj. Gen. commanding a force/division, resulting in severe command and control problem. Similar problems arise where BSF is operating with Army in counter insurgency operation. It needs to be examined whether the application of doctrine of equal pay for equal rank enshrined in the directive principles of state; policy in chapter IV of the Constitution and accepted by the Supreme Court on Fundamental Right to Equality has any significance where pay of a senior officer is less than the junior officer in rank and service.
Service conditions of armed forces are harsher and tougher that organized group A services. These service conditions include restriction of fundamental rights and strict disciplinary codes, separation from families, truncated careers, stringent promotion criteria, bleak career prospects, undefined and unlimited working hours, effect of continuous exposure to hazardous situations, and threat to life. None of the personnel from the Organized Group A services face these issues.
The Daily Mail’s findings further reveal that regarding parity with IPS, it may be recalled that the 3rd CPC on basis of the Raghuramaiah Committee Report, 1960 vide 8 of Chapter 50 (Appendix A) elucidated the basis on which a linkage/relativity in terms of pay structure of the Armed Forces was established with Class I services of Central Government particularly IPS. This was the first pay commission to handle the pay of civilians as well as the armed forces personnel. The 4th and 5th CPC had also continued to broadly maintain the established parity of the Armed Forces with the IPS. Sth CPC recommended the NFU to organized group A services only, while it was extended to IPS and IFS. The parity of Armed Forces with IPS also-got disturbed due to non grant of NFU to armed forces.
The Daily Mail’s investigations that after repeated SOSs from the three Services Chiefs, the Indian government, half heartedly formed a committee to address the issue and to give its recommendations just last month. However, the move came as a big shock for the Services Chiefs as there was no representation of the armed forces in the said committee and it comprised just on civilian bureaucracy and headed by a cabinet secretary. The Services of India are reported to be rejecting the recommendations of such a committee that has no say of the armed forces and is expected to give its final recommendations by the 8th of this month.
A senior Indian defense official, requesting anonymity, told The Daily Mail that the Defence establishment of India is not ready accept the recommendations of such a committee , particularly when it is finalizing the recommendations in such a short time and that too without any in put from the armed forces at all.